Master of Science
Resting cerebral blood flow (CBF) is increased during the luteal (LUT) phase of the menstrual cycle; however, it is unclear whether this change impacts a postexercise executive function (EF) benefit. Female participants (N=16) performed three experimental sessions: a V̇O2peak task and 20-min single bouts of moderate intensity aerobic exercise (i.e., 80% of lactate threshold) during their follicular (FOL) and luteal (LUT) menstrual cycle phases. A separate group of male participants (N=21) additionally completed a V̇O2peak test and a 20-min exercise intervention. Middle cerebral artery velocity (MCAv) was measured during exercise via transcranial Doppler ultrasound to estimate CBF and EF was assessed prior to and immediately after exercise. The MCAv response to exercise and postexercise EF benefit did not vary between FOL and LUT phases or between female and male participants. The present study demonstrates that menstrual cycle status should not limit inclusion of female participants in exercise neuroscience research.
Summary for Lay Audience
Biologically female participants have increased resting brain blood flow during the luteal phase of their menstrual cycle. Brain blood flow is increased during a single session of exercise and is thought to be a contributing mechanism to an exercise-based improvement in cognition. The role of increased resting brain blood flow during the luteal phase has not been investigated in the context of exercise-based improvements to cognition. Here, I investigated the brain blood flow response in sixteen female participants by having them complete a twenty-minute cycling session during their follicular and luteal menstrual cycle phases. Twenty-one biologically male participants performed the same exercise session. Results showed no difference in an exercise-based brain blood flow response across menstrual cycle phases or between female and male participants. In addition, menstrual cycle phase and participant-sex did not influence the magnitude of a postexercise improvement in cognition. Accordingly, my dissertation indicates that menstrual cycle status should not serve as a factor limiting the inclusion of female participants in exercise neuroscience research.
Persaud, Priyanka, "Postexercise executive function and cortical hemodynamics during the different phases of the menstrual cycle" (2023). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 9337.